Telecommuting and Sustainability


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Telecommuting as a sustainability strategy. Covers the pros and cons of telework, federal and state telework programs, costs and benefits, and quantifies the potential financial and environmental impacts of a national telework program. This program was presented by Kate Lister in San Diego so those statistics are available as well. Lecture can be customized for any locale with data from the telework savings calculator.

For more information contact Kate LIster at

(c) 2009 Telework Research Network - All rights reserved

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  • Look like I got a promotion!
  • Some of you may recognize me. I ran for president last Fall on a Pajama Platformwith the promise that:If you vote for me and I’ll put the freeze global warming. I’ll tell the Middle East to pound sand because, under my leadership, we won’t need their oil.I’ll increase GNP, and reduce the national debt. I’ll reclaimmany of the jobs that have been lost to offshoring.I’ll provide new employment opportunities for the un and under-employed.I’ll improve family life and give many of you an extra 2-3 weeks of vacation a year. I’ll bolster our disaster preparedness. I’ll curbtraffic jams andreduce the strain on our crumbling highways and bridges. And I’ll revitalize our cites and I’ll reduce crime.Well, as you may know, I didn’t win. It probably all sounded too good to be true, not that’s ever dissuaded voters in the past.But fact is, a strong national push for telework or work-at-home programs could do that and more.Teleworkoffers a pull, not a push solution to sustainabilitybecause itbenefits employers, employees, and the community.
  • Modern technology makes it possible for many people to work where they want, and when they wantThe terms telework and telecommuting were first coined by Jack Nilles, a former rocket scientist who, after helping to put a man on the moon, set his sights on the problem of traffic. That was more than 30 year ago, and while the concept has grown in popularity, still less than 3% of the employee population works at home the majority of the time.Over the years the terms telework and telecommuter have come to mean the same thing and other names such as virtual worker, remote worker, home based worker, eworker, and road warrior have joined in the fun. What I’m talking about here, are the people who can avoid the commute by working at home or somewhere nearby at least part of the time. A plumber may work from home but he’s gotta leave the house to unclog your drain.
  • I don’t know about you but I can practically feel my IQ go downas I pull my pantyhose up. Most of you gentlemenhave never had the pleasure but Iwouldn’t want to wear a necktieeither? Who do you figure decided a tourniquet around an executive’s brainstemwas a good idea?I used to commute an hour to and from work every day. By the time I got home, I needed a half hour just to decompress from the stress. So I decided to fashion my life around not wearing pantyhose.I didn’t realize it was a sustainability move at the timebut here we are.For the last 20 years, I’ve worked where I want, when I want, and dressed how I want. That included 16 years of running a businessthat employed 25 pilotsand operated7 vintage airplanes. Of course the pilots were clothed, we were a PG operation, but most of what we did involved computers and telephones, so why leave home?We sold that business several years ago and, to makea long story short, we decided to learn everything we could about home-based work and telecommuting.
  • Most of the numbers I’ll be throwing around today come from the Telework Savings Calculator we developed to quantify what every city, county, region, congressional district, and state in the country could save through telework. Using data from dozens of well-respected sources together with the latest Census numbers, we calculatethings like:- How much communities could save in oil, greenhouse gases, and highway maintenance,- What companies can save in Real Estate and other costs,- And what individuals can save in gas, In & Out Burgers, and other work related expenses.
  • I’m going to try really hard not to bore you with statistics, though my left brain would love to, but I do want to convince you that our research has been thorough and our assumptions are based on both well respected studiesand actual field data from companies and government organizations that are experienced in telework.These are some of the sources that have gone into building our model.
  • BTW,this isn’t a sales pitch either, that will come later. The telework savings calculator is available free on the web. Here are some of the assumptions companies can play with to model their own situations. If you’re in the heart of downtown NY for example, your Starbucks latte may set you backmore than the average, … Your employees may be better dressed than the average Joe, … Or you may be a really lousy bossso you’’ll need to bump up the employee turnover assumption.Just like they used to say at Burger King, you can have it your way!
  • ?? Out of curiosity, how many sit at a desk at least half of the time?A few years back somebody with a lot of time on their hands and a research grant went through all the types of jobs covered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and calculated how much of them could be done remotely. What they figured out was that 40% of the workforce hold jobs that could be done at home at least part of the time.?? Another question: How many of you would like to work at home all or some of the time?Other highly paid researchers have teased out the conclusion that themajority of people would prefer to work in their jammies.In San Diego that’s almost a half a millionpeople. The staggeringfinancial impactsshown here represent the savings If those who could work from home did so just half the time. Nationally the savings could total over $750 Billion – almost enough to offset the first installment of the recent financial bailout.
  • Saving money is not the primary driver of telework but as you can see, it’s a heck of a side benefit.These numbers represent what San Diego companies could save from half-time telework:In calculating the Real Estate savings we realize that not all offices can be eliminated immediately, especially those of part time teleworkers. But based on federal and other corporate experience, our calculator assumes that just a quarter of them could be eliminatedover time. Some companies are even successful with office hotelling or hot-desking, where you call in ahead of time and reserve an office just like you would a hotel room. Just don’t expect a bottle of Dom Peringonwaiting for you when you arrive. Electricity savings shown here are net of increase in home office electricity which is about a thirdof that of a traditional office. Numbers here assume just a quarter of offices were lights outwhen teleworkers were at home.AMA showed that telework reduces absences by almost two-thirds because people who work from home aren’t exposed to the the mucus troopers who come to work sick, they return to work quickerafter illnesses, and they don’t need to take a whole day off for emergencies, appointments and so forth.Turnover is a big expensefor employers as well. When you consider the cost of hiring, training, and lost productivity associated with replacing and employee, the fully loaded cost of turnover is 50% - 200% of an employee’s salary. Once people find a gig that allows them to work where they want, they don’t often give it up.Office Employees admit to wasting 2 hours a day, not including lunch and scheduled breaks. All that, together with constant cubicle prairie–dogging and long-windedmeetings, costs employers millions. In fact, overworkingis one of the big problems among people who work from home. One guy we interviewed had so much trouble turning it off at nighthe resorted to getting in his car at 6pm, driving around the block, and parking back at his houseto signify the end of his day.Corporate bottom line savings is about$8,000 per half-time teleworker.Stiffer environmental laws and financial sanctions are coming. Telework is one of the easiest ways to address these costs.
  • We spoke to a woman who was a manager at WalMart making $45,000/year. She lived so far from civilization that the FEDEX driver once asked her if she was in the witness program – of course she declined to comment. But between her commute, the money she spent on clothes and food, she figured out that her take home pay after all expenses was less than 24,000 per year. She quit Wal Mart and took a lower paying work at home jobbut net net she was financially further ahead. As an aside, she also has a pet cow named Moo, who she had to relocatefrom the pen next to her house to prevent bovine emissions from interrupting her telephone conversations.The average consumer savings for half-time telework is $4,500 to $11,000/year not including daycare.And by not playing in traffic, half-time teleworkers gain back an extra 2.5 weeks of freetimea year.
  • And, as I’ve shown, the community would benefit as well. Thesenumbers represent the what the federal and local governments would save if San Diego’s prospective teleworkers worked at home half time.Those Oil savings are big but consider how much bigger they’d have been last year when oil was over $100/barrel.Less vehicle miles, means fewer Accidents: - OSHA considers the time employees spend in the car as the most dangerous part of their day.We talked about increased productivity for teleworkersbutreduced traffic would improve non-teleworker productivity as well: - In most large cities commuters have to allow twice as long as they normally would it they want to be sure to be on time. - For busy road warriors that cuts their productivity in half, especially now that they can’t text while driving.Fewer cars on the road allow emergency vehicles to better respond to crises.Telework offers new employment opportunities for Stay home parents and caregivers, part-timers, rural workers, retirees, and the disabledOnly 6% of major cities have kept pace with road growth Most can’t afford to catch up By taking cars off the road, roadway maintenance needs are reducedOffice Electricity Net Savings in San Diego could power 15,000 homes for a year.Human Congestion andthe associated problems would decrease.And our cities could once again become places of leisure. When we first moved here 18 years ago, we frequently went downtown todine, got to shows, visit Balboa Park. Now we almost never do because of traffic.
  • Imentioned environmental saving earlier butnationally the annual environmental savings would total up to almost 60% of our Gulf Oilimports and savings in greenhouse gasesequivalent to taking 15 million carsoff the road. The other numbers here represent what we could save in San Diego County.
  • Here a just some other benefits of telework that have been proven incompany after company and study after study;• Continuity of Operations Federal Workers are actually required by law to work from home to the maximum extent possible. Why, because whether its terrorism, swine flu, transit strikes, fallen bridges, or snowstorms, governments as well as companies need to be able to continue to operate in the event of a disaster. In Feb, both the House and Senate proposed bills to add teethto the federal mandate. Watch the news for the next week or so, with swine flu upon us, I guarantee you’re going to be hearing more about telework.• Expand Labor PoolMySQL, largest open source database software provider in the world has employees on every continent but Antarctica. All work virtually. Dir of HR said they’d never have been able to accomplishwhat they have without being able to hire the best people in the world. BTW one pf their bonding strategies is playing World of Warcraftin the afternoon.- Telework also offers new opportunities for part-timers, retirees, rural workers, disabled, and stay at home caregivers.• Increase ProductivityBest Buy, British Telecom, American Express, Dow Chemical, Sun Micro and the majority of others reportsignificant increases in productivity for home-based staff. • Improve Work/Life Balance People are bummed out, burned out, and stressed out. A wide range of studies shows teleworkersare far happier with their jobs, less stressed, and more loyal to their employers. In fact, a third of peoplesurveyed say they’d choose working from home over a pay raise.• Slow Brain DrainWorkforce planners predict a massivehit to corporate intelligence as Baby Boomers retire. The majority of boomers want to work past retirement, but they want to do it on their terms.• A lot of managers are scratching their heads about how to motivate GenYworkers. Flexible work scores high with them as well.
  • 10 years ago we could drive from Carlsbad to Lindburghfield in 20 minutes. Now it takes 40 minutes or much much longer if people are rubbernecking over an accident.Imagine what the daily commute would be like with almost 200k fewer daily drivers? Actually it would be even better than you think because studies show that for every car you take off the road, there’s a 3x reduction in congestion. By this measure, congestion would be reduced by almost 50%.Again, we’re still talking just half time telework.
  • As virtual technologies and virtual communications become the norm, and they will, otherenvironmental savings will be caught in the ripple:Already Companies likeHSN, 1-800-Flowers, even PizzaHut use teleconferencing and webinars to interview, hire, train and manage their at-home workforce. In many cases they never meet the people who work for them.More telework means a reduced need for office construction -- that will help us retain our parks and open spaces.Asonline storage and communications become commonplace, un-green technologies like printers, and copiers will go the way of pagers. How many faxes did you send in the past year compared to two years ago? Two companies in the last week told me they didn’t own a fax.
  • So with all these benefits,why hasn’t telework taken off?Management Attitudesthat belong in the days of sweatshops and typing poolsJack Nilles – the grandfather of telework, told me a story about anargument he once had with management guru,Tom Peters:Jack argued that Tom’s theory of Quote “Management by Walking Around” EndQuote -- Jack told Peters “that was fine for crumby organizations that don’t trust their employees, but if managers establish goals and criteria for meeting those goals they can show employee what they want, how to do it, and then get out of their way. In this day and age, Work should be what you do, not where, how, or when you do it. Security often comes up as an argument against telework Fact is, the huge majority of Information Technology manager say it’s not the teleworker that worry them. Starbucks storyIT managers biggest worry is people who are not trained about the risks. The folks who take work home. The folks who work on airplanes. And apparently British commissioners who stroll around #10 Downing with “top secret” files in full view.Some naysayers say the COSTS to implement a telework program are too high - In fact, a third of companies do not pay for home office equipment because their employees already have what they need. - GSA reported a 300% ROI on its telework program in its annual report to Congress -NCR and Lucent both found the savings to be twice the costs. - Nortel found that the reduction in absenteeism alonewas enough to offset the costs.Not for Everyone For some social needs, lack of home office space, home distractions, makes them poor candidates for telework. For them, regional telework centersoffer a kind of halfway house alternative. And you’re not going to send the office slacker home and hope for the best. In most companies telework is a privilege that’s’ earned through good performance..
  • How can communities help encourage telework?We need championsin the form of business leaders and politicians who walk the walk and talk the talk with anyone who will listen. We need legislators who understand what an elegant solution telework offers to a wide range of problems.We need them to push for corporate telework incentives and for mandatory municipal participation. We need them to address out of date zoning laws that prevent people from working at home. We need them to support the Telecommuter Tax Fairness Act so that states like NY can’t double tax out-of-state home-based employees.We need them to address the cost and availability of Health Insurance, that keep people from striking out on their own. We need them to lobby for ubiquitous High Speed broadband which is essential to telework. - Sadly, we are way behind the other industrialized nations in this regard.
  • Fortunately with 30+ years of experience behind us, Communities and Companies don’t have to reinvent the wheel.On our website and elsewhere (including you can find sample telework policies, employee agreements, even posters for the water cooler. Following the federal government’s lead, many states have already adopted mandatory telework programs for state workers. – Not CA, by the way.A number of states and local communities have gone a step further and passed legislation to encourage companies to develop programs. Virginia, Georgia, and Oregon all offer financial incentives to help companies to get off the pot.If you can believe it, there are even unspent Federal Highways Authority Funds could help pay for programs. Colorado and District of Columbia have both dipped into the pool to help develop their programs.
  • There is lots more information about telework available at andthe TeleworkResearchNetwork.comThey’re actually one in the same, but we created the latter in response to the accounting firm who enthusiastically responded to our interviewrequest until we told them the name of the book. It seems they didn’t think it would be good for business to have their customers imagine their CPA wearing nothing but a pencil behind his ear. If the Susan Boyle’s of the world have taught us anything it’s that it shouldn’t matter what you like like, but what you can do that counts.Telework is the great equalizer.I’d be happy to question anyanswers.
  • Telecommuting and Sustainability

    1. 1. Kate Lister Executive Director, Principal Investigator Disclaimer: Anything contained in, not contained in, assumed to be implied by, warranted by, excluded from being warranted by, or vaguely alluded to in this presentation, or any other presentation resembling or not resembling this presentation in any way, shall not be attributed to, blamed upon, or otherwise associated with the presenter, any alleged presenter, her heirs or any of presenter’s friends, enemies, acquaintances, the Telework Research Network, or any other associated organization or individuals in any city, county, state, province, country, pla net, solar system, galaxy, universe, or multiverse, nor shall any of the aforementioned parties be held responsible, irresponsible, accountable, discountable, or in any way involved with the aforementioned presentation or Undress For Success word cloud courtesy the presence or absence thereof.
    2. 2. Take Your Pick
    3. 3. Definition • Telework – any form of • Teleworker – anyone who works remotely • Telecommuter– an office worker who periodically (one or more days per week) works remotely “All telecommuters are teleworkers, but not vice versa” -- Jack Nilles
    4. 4. Telework vs. Alternative Fuels • Half-time Telework Would Save 453 million barrels of oil a year – Equivalent of 764 tWh • Twice what U.S. produced in: – Biomass, Liquid Biofuels, Geothermal, Solar, Hydr o, Marine, and Wind combined in 2007
    5. 5. My Road Less Traveled • Just Say No To Pantyhose / Neck Ties • 20+ Years Working at Home – Barnstorming – What’s Next?
    6. 6. Telework Research • 250+ Studies • Researchers, Advocates, Naysayers • Employers, Employees, VC’s Our research has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Harvard Business Review, Fortune and many other publications.
    7. 7. Telework Savings Calculator • Used by legislators, community advocates, and Fortune 500 companies in U.S. and Canada to promote telework initiatives • Available for every City, County, Metro Area, Congressional District, State in U.S. • Savings -Community: Oil, greenhouse Telework Savings Calculator gases, traffic, highway maintenance -Company: Real Estate, Absenteeism, Turnover, Produc tivity
    8. 8. Telework Savings Calculator - Sources • American Community Survey (Interim • National Association of Child Care Census) Resource & Referral Agencies • Telework Adoption and Energy Use in • Energy Information Building and Transport Sectors in the Administration, Petroleum Supply Annual United States and Japan - Matthews and • U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Williams Information Administration, Household • Journal of Infrastructure Systems Electricity Reports • U.S. General Services Administration • Federal Highway Administration Traffic • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Safety Facts - National Highway Safety & • U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics Travel Administration Omnibus Household Survey • Hewitt LCG, Nucleus Absence Overview • The Quiet Success: Telecommuting’s and 2005 CCH Unscheduled Absence Impact on Transportation and Beyond ( Survey Reason Foundation) • American Management Association • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Productivity Studies • Collier's International Parking Study • U.S. Telework Coalition • The Internet and the New Energy • WorldatWork, Member survey: Attraction Economy (Joseph Romm ,Center for Energy and and Retention Practices Climate Solutions, Global Environment and Technology • Foundation)
    9. 9. Custom Savings Calculator • Total # of employees • % Reduction in absences • # Teleworkers • % of employees who quit each year • Days / week they will telework • % improvement in retention • Additionalemployees who could • Assumed improvement in work at home productivity • Roundtrip miles to work • Average annual earnings of • Roundtrip commute in minutes teleworkers • Other employee Savings • Other company savings • $ per gallon of gas • % Who could work at home • % teleworker offices that are • % of people who want to telework eliminated • % Daily travel reduction • Cost per kWh of electricity • Parking, Lunch, Work Clothes • Cost/per office • Other Individual Savings/Year • Cost of losing an employee • Day CareCosts • Cost of unscheduled absences
    10. 10. San Diego County Potential $ Impact of 472,000 San Diego Telecommuters: - Corporate: $3 Billion - Consumer: $5 Billion - Community: $4 Billion Nationally: Over $750 Billion/Year
    11. 11. Corporate Bottom Line Impact • Real Estate Savings $1.2 B - IBM slashed real estate costs by $50 million - Dow Chemical and Nortel save over 30% on non-real estate costs - Average real estate $10,000 per employee per year • Electricity $54M • Absenteeism $212M - 78% of people who call in sick aren’t. • Turnover $22M - 95% of employers say telework has a significant impact on attrition • Productivity $1.9 B Total Corporate Impact: $3.4 B + Carbon Taxes, Access Taxes, Clean Air Initiatives
    12. 12. Teleworker Impact • Vehicle Savings $1,980 • Parking, Food, Clothes, Misc. $2,558 to $11,222 • Daycare $1,500 to $4,000 Total Consumer Savings: $4,500 to $11,000/Yr - not including daycare + 2-3 extra weeks of free time
    13. 13. Community Bottom Line • Imported Oil Savings $4.2 Billion • Accident Costs $172 Million (1,400 people) • Higher Productivity • Better Emergency Responsiveness • Fuller Employment • Highway Maintenance $29 Million • 15,000 Homes Powered • Reduced Human Congestion • Beautifies Cities
    14. 14. Environment • Barrels of Oil: – Locally: 4.3 million barrels / yr – Nationally 57% of Gulf Imports • Greenhouse Gases: – Locally: 793,000 tons/yr – Nationally equivalent to removing 15 million cars
    15. 15. Other Great Reasons To Stay Home • Continuity of Operations • Improve Work/Life - Pandemic, Terrorism, Natural Balance disaster - A third of people surveyed say - 75% of teleworkers feel they they’d take working from home could continue to work in the event over a pay raise of a disaster (compared to 12% of non-telewokers) • Slow Brain Drain • Expand Labor Pool - 75% of retirees want to work past retirement, but they want - part-timers, retirees, rural to do it on their terms workers, disabled, caregivers • Increase Productivity •Gen Y Motivator - 20-45% increase in productivity - Flexible work scores high - 30% increase in sales
    16. 16. Playing in Traffic San Diego: 16% fewer cars on the highways “For every car you take off the road, there’s a 3x reduction in congestion.”
    17. 17. Ripple Effect • Less Travel – Teleconferencing / Video Conferencing – Remote Training / Webinars • Less Construction • Less Office Equipment / Toxic Waste • Less Paper – 10% could power 228,000 homes – reduce emissions equiv to 279,000 cars – reduce waste by 44,000 garbage trucks – reduces 16,000 Olympic pools worth of wastewater – save 13 million trees
    18. 18. Road Blocks • Management Attitudes • Security Concerns – Over 90% of IT managers say telework isn’t the problem • Costs -Average cost : $300 to $3,900 / first year teleworker (compared to $7,900 savings) - GSA shows 300% ROI - NCR and Lucent: savings double the costs. - Nortel: costs offset by the reduction in absenteeism alone • Not for Everyone
    19. 19. Green Light • Business Leadership • Political Leadership – Relax Zoning Laws – Avoid Double Taxation – Health Insurance – Ubiquitous Broadband / WiFi • Cost per highway mile = $44 million • Cost per information highway mile = $20k
    20. 20. Models for Success Federal Highways Authority / Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality (2.2 billion allocation not spent. Expires 2012) • – Tax Credits:$20k for • Telework VA feasibility, Tax Credits: $1,200 – Grants up to $3,500 per per employee employee ,$10,000 for • Oregon equipment, $25,000 for – Up to $30,000 tax credits consulting • AZ, CT, Seattle, Denver, LA/Oran • Georgia ge/Ventura Counties
    21. 21. Undress For Success: The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home (Wiley, April 2009) • “You could spend years with focus groups assemble cross-functional teams to study and recommend organizational changes, or simply read Undress For Success.” – Jack Heacock, co-founder of the Telework Coalition • “The best collection of telework how-to’s and why’s I’ve seen anywhere.” – Jim Ware, co-founder of The Future of Work • Bob Fortier, President of Canadian Telework Association • Marcia Rhoades, WorldatWork • Laura Vanderkam, USA Today Reporter • Cali Williams Yost, Fast Company Expert
    22. 22. Make the Road Less Traveled the Way to Work